2012 NFL Preseason Analysis: Lessons Learned from Falcons vs. Ravens

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Things started out on offense much like last years squad.

Michael Turner had two rushes to set up a third down and then Matt Ryan converted with a slant to Roddy White. Then Julio Jones go involved. Jones beat his man inside for 26 yards and then Ryan hit Jones on quick hit screen where he had two offensive linemen running down the field in front of him to block.

Ryan went to Jones again on a short out and two plays later Julio Jones made an amazing catch in the corner of the end zone for a TD. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis weren't playing but it was an impressive display of offense from the get-go and Julio Jones being the focal point of the offense put the icing on the cake.

To start off the second drive, Ryan arched a pass around twenty yards downfield where only Roddy White could catch it but the Falcons had to punt after an iffy call on what looked like a twenty-yard completion to roster hopeful Drew Davis. On the third series the Falcons took over at the Ravens twenty but Ryan got greedy and threw a pick on a slant. It was a good read by the Ravens defender as Ryan was too predetermined with where he wanted to go with the football.

Ryan came right back from the INT and zipped a completion over the middle to Julio Jones. On a third and four, Ryan was forced out of the pocket but hit his buddy Roddy White on the run for a first down. Ryan then hit Jones again down the sideline as he beat his man and made a 30+ yard catch. The connection with Jones set up Jacquizz Rodgers to ground out the rest of the yards on this drive and find his way into the end zone.

On defense, the Falcons made quick work of the Ravens first-string offense with a three and out to start off. On the Falcons second drive, Stephen Nicholas broke through the dline on second down to make contact with the running back and allow the rest of the D to swarm in for a tackle. On third down, Nicholas was again a focal point as he had solid coverage out of the backfield and deflected what would have been a first down. Two drives, two three and outs. On the third drive, Stephen Nicholas got another notch on his belt with a tackle and on third down the pocket collapsed on Joe Flacco and Kroy Biermann was credited with a sack. Three drives, three straight three and outs.

More positive: Dominique Franks had a big time punt return that he almost took back to the house. Pat Hill's mustache is in mid-season form. In the first quarter, the Falcons had nine first downs and the Ravens had just nine total yards. Julio Jones finished the game with 6 receptions for 109 yards in what was basically one quarter of play.

The negatives: Bradie Ewing sustained a knee injury and it didn't look like good news. Akeem Dent got knocked out when he took a shoulder to the chin on a special teams play. The second and third strings leave a lot to be desired as they got outplayed by the Ravens.

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